Forget the back pages of tabloids, about your love life and star signs. The real astrology has never left science and never left our lives. As soon as you mention the name of any day of the week, you unwittingly continue to pay homage to ancient astrological deities. Sunday is the Sun's day (with the heli in heliocentric meaning 'holy'), Monday belonged to the Moon, Tuesday is Tiu (God of War)'s day, Wednesday is for Mercury (Wodin's day), Thursday belongs to Thor, god of thunder, Friday is Frigg's day (for Venus, goddess of love) and Saturday is named after Saturn.
The months (‘moonths’) too were named by Roman astrologers. September was the seventh House, October the eighth, November the ninth and December the tenth (Latin deca). Names of planets, stars and constellations are astrological. Andromeda was the chained maiden of Greek mythology and Perseus is the demi-god who saved her. The roots of astrology are tied to the calendar and seasons, always culturally and politically acceptable. The word 'horoscope' means “watcher of the hour.” The ancient Greeks believed that cycles of Sun, Moon, and stars dramatically impacted their lives. Nothing has changed to this day. Each year we are a stage ahead in the solar cycle from last year, each month somewhere new along the lunar cycle and each hour at a different position of the tidal cycle that controls local weather and the nearby sea tide. The Sun controls seasons(from 'sow'), being the Sun's entry into new divisions of the astrological sky.
We still use ‘calendars’, originally the guiding texts for agriculture for timings of cropping and harvest. Calendar derives from 'kel' meaning to call, cry or yell, from the days that times for prayer were broadcast in the street by a human voice, along with items of daily news. Hence 'clamour' and 'clear', which is what you wanted the Cryer's voice to be. He would call out nomes and ides of a month to come. This function is now performed by TV anchors. What has changed? Every night the weatherman foretells tomorrow's weather. This is what astrologers did.
Astrology was taught for 400 years in European universities. It fell into disuse when omitted from science texts because it did jarred with the scientific method. Founding fathers of modern western science were the astrologers Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Franklin, all of whom held university professorships. Newton trained under the astrologer Descartes. The new scientific method changed one variable whilst the remainder were held still. An experiment had to be repeatable by others. Astrology could not be proven because some cycles took a thousand years to repeat. And yet to be true to itself the scientific method would need for the same experimenter to do all the experiments, to remove the variable of operator bias. Without that condition the scientific method is invalid. The word 'science' simply meant to use investigative methods set down by the astrologers in care when drawing up of tables and in dedication to mathematical precision.
Christian society defines astrology and its reliance on cycles as heretic. The weather cannot be cyclic, argues the western scientist, because God himself, God alone, knows the future. We have no business trying to divine what God has not clearly revealed in His Word. So cycles are ruled out. And yet science seeks to predict from repeated and repeatable observations; a dilemma for western philosophy. Do cycles exist, or is everything due to chance? Day may not always follow night, or winter follow autumn. The fact that they seem to, is only high probability. And yet probability, chance, random, luck, fluke, coincidence is the language of the casino, not the science lab. The brief of the scientist is to actually search for evidence of cycles so that reliable predictions can be made. Reliability comes from experimental observation. Then we can build bridges and hospitals with faith that they will not fall down. We do not leave it up to God to decide - we seek assurances from people who have slide rules, not bibles. And yet cycles are astrology.
Copernicus the astrologer claimed that Earth was not the centre of the Universe, and it triggered a revolution through which religion, science, and society had to adapt to a new world view, and one we still take part in. The new view came from astrology. .Today we have several tiers of financial advisers, from accountants to economists doing the job of the old astrologers. Whether one is a venture capitalist investing in science education wishing to know if research or technology will provide a best return for a community, or whether just wanting to purchase a rental for a retirement income — this is like the court astrologer who advised a mediaeval king before going into battle. Astrology was the internet, the apps, the adding machine, the farm advisory and the sailor’s guide.
Astrology continues to revolutionize our thinking on a worldwide scale. It was used to measure time, mark the seasons, and navigate the vast oceans. The builder of the Greenwich Observatory, the astrologer Flamsteed, was commissioned by King George to find a better resource for transoceanic navigation than Moon and Venus tables then in use. Flamsteed's horoscope wheel is still etched into the side of the building that controls world time. Captain Cook sailed to the Antipodes to secretly test Venus risings using a new-fangled clock. It was practical astrology at work.
Sceptics that decide the well is half empty are committed to the self-imposed misery of drinking from empty cups. Astrology is part of every culture’s history and roots - we are stuck with it. One role was to provide personal identity, to bring comfort via sense of place in the complex cosmos and vast universe. Cycles embraced philosophy and mental health and promised answers to the big questions. All things come then go. We understand ourselves by what role we play in our larger environment.
As we have our own social orbits of family and friends, the solar system has magnetic bodies. Scientists agree that planetary magnetism varies the output from the Sun. Whether or not we are aware of it, Earth and everything on the earth gets affected. We may as well accept it and get on with life.
Ken Ring of www.predictweather.com is the author of the Weather Almanacs for NZ (Random House).